February 12

What Size Microwave do I Need? | Guide for Different Purposes


Author: Ana Stanar
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One of the first questions you have to consider while selecting a microwave is “what size microwave do I need"?

They come in different sizes, and the choice can be difficult if you haven't previously bought a microwave oven before.

In this article, we will help you decide how big or small a microwave you need.

Basically, the choice depends on individual needs and preferences, but we will highlight some of the factors that you should consider while selecting a microwave for your kitchen. 

Why is the Size of Microwaves Important?

The size of any microwave is important for so many reasons. You will be placing it in your kitchen, so it should be appropriate to your kitchen size.

Too big or too small will look odd in your kitchen and may not blend in your kitchen’s interior perfectly.

Plus, those with limited kitchen space or those with pre-built cabinets would need to be particularly careful about the size that they pick so that it fits nicely in the spaces.

The size of the microwave is also important based on the number of people you plan to serve. For example, it would be unfruitful to buy a large microwave if you only want to serve yourself.

This directly correlates with your budget as well. The larger the microwave oven, the more expensive it would be.

How to Know the Size of a Microwave?

On the surface when you look at a microwave it seems quite easy to understand it size. That’s how most people justify their needs anyways i.e by observation alone instead of looking at the numbers.

However, the best way is to look at its specs sheet. Any microwave oven will have its size written in the description. You can easily have an idea of how big it is.

The size is measured in cubic feet and it relates to the size of the oven chamber. The actual physical size of the oven may be larger, but it is the oven chamber size that matters here.

Internal Measurement of Microwave

The volumetric measurement of any microwave is given in cubic feet abbreviate as ft^3.

What Size Microwave do I Need
Source: Ginifab.com Cubic Feet Calculator

Think of cubic feet measurement as the total cooking capacity of the oven. It is also directly related to how powerful the oven is.

The cubic feet measurement is taken by multiplying its height, length, and width in inches and then dividing it by 1.728 to convert it into cubic feet.

Alternatively, you can take the measurement of the three sides in ft instead of inches. Multiplying the three measurements in ft would give you the volumetric measurement in cubic feet.

How remember that this is just the interior measurement of the microwave. It is generally the most important measurement as it gives you the idea of its size and power.

When trying to make space in your kitchen or when building a cabinet, you have to the external measurements.

External Measurement of Microwave

Internal measurement should not be enough for buyers, especially for those who have limited counter space.

The size of the microwave’s interior may not reflect its true size if it has a huge outer frame.

In short, external measurement is important when choosing a place for the microwave in your kitchen.

What Size Microwave Do I Need? – Sizes of Microwaves

Here are different microwave sizes.

Small Size Microwaves Ovens – 0.5 – 1.0 Cubic Feet

COMFEE Small Microwave
A typical Small microwave with 0.7 Cubic foot capacity. Source: COMFEE EM720CPL-PM

Small microwaves are compact and range between 0.5-1 cubic feet in internal volumetric measurement.

Small size microwaves are excellent for smart kitchens and small families. They are perfect if you just plan to reheat some leftovers or want to defrost meat or veggies.

But these are good only for couples, college students living in dorm rooms, or people living alone.

A big advantage of small microwaves is that they are cheap and are easily affordable.

The average power rating of these microwave ovens is 700-900 watts.

Medium Size Microwaves Ovens – 1.0 – 1.5 Cubic Feet

medium size microwave oven
A typical 1.2 cu feet Microwave Oven. Source: Toshiba EM131A5C-BS

A medium-size microwave may range between 1 to 1.5 cubic feet. They are perfect for a normal family of 3-4 people; neither too big nor too small.

They are still quite affordable, and you can manage larger plates or cooking utensils inside.

Medium size microwaves have often spacious interiors and smart outer frames, so they don’t cover much space on your countertop.

This is the most famous size for a common household.

Large Microwaves Ovens – 1.6 – 2.0 Cubic Feet

large microwave oven dimensions

Large microwaves are anywhere between 1.6-2.0 cubic feet in capacity. They are good for a large family with 4-5 members or for those who often cook large meals in their microwave oven.

These microwaves can be used for more than reheating. You can be creative and cook a variety of food inside, depending on the features of your microwave.

Another great advantage of having a large microwave is that you can defrost food in larger batches.

Furthermore, since they are high-powered microwave ovens (in the range of 1200W), they can reheat, cook and defrost much faster than smaller ovens.

Extra Large Microwaves Ovens – Greater than 2.0 Cubic Feet

Extra-large microwaves are above 2.0 cubic feet.

Typically for home, the largest size is a 2.2 cubic feet microwave oven with a 16.5-inch turntable.

They are also quite great for a small commercial kitchen as well.

Extra-large microwave ovens occupy a lot of space and therefore they are mostly installed within cabinets, above-the-range, or under-the-cabinets.

Things to Determine While Selecting a Microwave’s Size

Here are a few things you should consider while selecting the size of a microwave.

1. What You Want To Cook Inside

That depends totally on your microwave cooking goals. If you wish to reheat food, pop up some popcorn, or defrost meat, you may not need a too big microwave.

However, if you plan to be more creative with your appliance and love to make use of it for several cooking options, then a medium or large microwave is more suitable.

Small microwaves still have their own value and are perfect for singles or students.

2. Type of Microwave

The type of microwave also should be considered. The three common types of the microwave are:

Countertop Microwave

These are placed on your kitchen counter or shelf. They are more diverse in terms of size and features.

Over-the-Range Microwaves

microwave in a cabinet

These microwaves are designed to fit above the cooktop. They require professional installation, but they leave the kitchen counter alone. They have less variety in size and usually come in medium or large sizes. You may find a compact microwave model too, but they are not very cheap.

Built-in Microwave Units

Built-in microwaves have precise measurements. They are mounted inside a cabinet or a drawer. They are the most expensive microwaves, but they fit into your kitchen’s décor easily.

3. Budget

This is probably the most important factor and often the deciding factor while choosing a microwave.

The more features a microwave has and the larger it is, the more expensive it tends to get.

Plus built-in and over-the-range microwaves are generally more expensive than countertop options.

Built-in and over-the-range models also require professional help for installation which further adds to their cost.

4. Features

The issue of size is not only related to the space you have. You need to consider the features you require in a microwave.

Small microwaves are often designed to fulfill the most basic job i.e reheating. defrosting and cooking very small portions.

They may not be good enough for bigger cooking adventures like cooking a roast, grilling, or other wonderful foods.

So Make sure you choose the appropriate size with your required features.

Plus some microwave ovens come with features like a convection microwave oven which may contribute to an increase in their overall size.


Buying a microwave is an important decision. You need to be careful while selecting an appliance like a microwave since they are not bought every day – check out our Toshiba EM131A5C-SS review or a Panasonic NN-sn766s review to see if they fit the bill.

“What size microwave do I need?” is one of the first questions that should pop into your mind when deciding to buy one.

Both internal as well as the external measurements of the microwave matter when deciding the size.

Internal measurement matters for cooking whereas external measurement matters for installation.

Factors like your cooking needs, budget, as well as the type of oven you want should matter in deciding the appropriate size too.


1. What is a standard size microwave?

The majority of models measure between 29 and 30 inches wide, 15 to 16 inches deep, and 16 to 18 inches tall. Although small variants are available, typical capacities range between 1.5 and 2.2 cubic feet.

2. How to choose the size of a microwave?

There are a few things you need to consider when choosing the size for your new microwave. The first is the size of your kitchen. Microwaves come in all different sizes, so you want to make sure you have enough room to store it. The next thing to consider is how often you will use it. If you only use it once in a while, then you don't need a large one. If you use it every day, then you might want to get a larger one.

3. How do I choose a microwave?

There are a few things you should consider when choosing a microwave: the size of the unit, the features it has, and how much power it has.

Think about how much space you have in your kitchen and what size microwave will fit. If you want a microwave with lots of features, like a turntable or a defrost setting, then you'll need to choose one that has those features. And finally, think about how powerful you need your microwave to be.

4. How do I know what size over the range microwave I need?

For easy access to over-the-range ovens, allow at least 66 inches from the floor to the bottom of the cabinet. Additionally, you'll need at least 30 inches between the stove surface and the cabinet's bottom. The term capacity refers to the size of the internal capacity or internal cooking space, though you should check our microwave placement guide, too.

5. Is 0.7 cu microwave too small?

A tiny unit is sufficient for reheating takeout. Cooking compartments range in size from 0.7 cubic feet, about the size of a dinner plate, to 2.1 cubic feet, large enough to hold a large casserole dish or to heat multiple items simultaneously.

About the author

Ana Stanar

An Art Teacher, entrepreneur, and a mother of three, Ana considers cooking a form of art - pleasure for all senses as well as a process that requires creativity, passion and devotion. Since she leads a busy life, Ana just loves testing various kitchen appliances for Kitchen Gearoid, especially those that save her time while preparing food and cooking but also make every meal a masterpiece!


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  1. Very informative, helpful article. It answered all of my questions except for one: Have you ever considered hiring a proofreader? 🙂

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